Why Your Teeth May Hurt During Exercise

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• Grinding and clenching of teeth during exercise due to stress, poor posture, weak jaw muscles, and bacteria buildup 

• Dehydration can lead to further tooth sensitivity and discomfort

• Enamel wear and tear from contact sports can cause pain and even tooth decay

• Restorative dental treatments such as bridges, crowns, dentures, and implants can help provide relief

It’s not uncommon for people to experience aching teeth during and after exercising. Whether you’re an athlete or enjoy staying active, understanding why your teeth hurt is essential to finding relief. Here are the most common causes of tooth sensitivity while exercising so that you can prevent any further discomfort.

Grinding/Clenching Your Teeth

The most common cause of tooth pain during exercise is grinding and clenching your teeth together. This is especially true if you participate in intense martial arts or weightlifting activities. Grinding your teeth can cause the jaw muscles to become tight and tense, resulting in discomfort throughout your mouth, including achy teeth. You may notice that your teeth feel sensitive and ache continuously during an intense workout.

Causes of Teeth Grinding/Clenching

Understanding the causes of teeth grinding and clenching during exercise is important. Here are some of the most common reasons that contribute to this uncomfortable condition:

  • Stress: People often grind their teeth as a response to stress and anxiety, which is particularly likely during an intense workout session.
  • Poor Posture: Slouching during exercise can force your head and neck forward, pushing your jaws together and causing you to clench your teeth.
  • Jaw Muscle Weakness: Weak jaw muscles may make it more difficult for the upper and lower teeth to maintain proper alignment during exercise.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Bacteria buildup on the teeth can cause them to become sensitive and more prone to grinding.

Ways to Reduce Grinding/Clenching

You can take several steps to reduce the amount of grinding and clenching during exercise. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Ensure your head, neck, and shoulders stay properly aligned throughout your workout.
  • Regularly brush and floss your teeth to reduce bacteria buildup.
  • Use a mouth guard while exercising to protect your teeth from grinding and clenching.
  • Stretch and massage your jaw muscles before and after exercise to keep them relaxed.
  • Talk to your dentist about options for treating the discomfort, such as night guards or Botox injections.

A hand holding a mouth guard with dental x-ray on a table


Another potential cause of toothaches associated with exercise is dehydration. Saliva production slows when you are dehydrated, meaning there is less protection for the sensitive parts of your teeth while working out. Also, dehydration can worsen existing dental issues, leading to further tooth sensitivity and pain.

How to Properly Hydrate During an Intense Workout

A proper hydration plan is essential for reducing the risk of dehydration and its associated toothaches. To ensure that you are well-hydrated during your workout, follow these tips:

  • Drink water throughout the day leading up to an intense workout session.
  • Bring a bottle of water to your workout and sip it regularly.
  • Aim for 8-10 ounces (240-300mL) of water per hour during the workout.
  • Avoid sugary sports and energy drinks, as they can cause further dehydration.
  • Consume electrolytes with your meals to help replenish lost minerals.

Enamel Wear and Tear

Wearing away the enamel on the surface of your teeth can also lead to increased sensitivity during exercise sessions. This typically occurs when you partake in sports like boxing or rugby that involve contact between faces and other players or equipment, such as helmets. If this persists, it may lead to pain and discomfort when you bite down, chew food, or worse, tooth decay.

How to Protect Your Tooth Enamel

Taking care of your enamel is essential for preventing pain while exercising. Here are some tips to help you protect the enamel on your teeth:

  • Avoid chewing hard objects, such as ice or pens.
  • Brush and floss your teeth twice daily and after every meal, if possible.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to help strengthen the enamel on your teeth.
  • Use a mouthguard when participating in contact sports.

A fighter putting a mouth guard before a fight

Ways to Repair the Damage

When wearing and tearing lead to teeth loss, tooth pain relief can be achieved through restorative dental treatments. Your dentist may suggest teeth replacement options such as bridges, crowns, dentures, and implants.

Dental implants are an option that is more permanent and will give you complete function back. These are surgically inserted into the jawbone to replace missing teeth. Since the implant post serves as the root of your new tooth, it helps keep your jawbone healthy and strong. This helps provide a stable base for your new replacement tooth, so you return to working out without any pain.

Achieving optimal oral health before, during, and after exercise is essential for preventing tooth pain. Taking the time to understand the causes of sensitivity and discomfort can help you find relief and protect your teeth from further damage while enjoying an active lifestyle. Talk to your dentist about strategies for managing aching teeth or other dental issues so you can stay healthy and active. With the right guidance, you’ll be able to exercise without worrying about aching teeth.

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